Posts Tagged ‘Private Healthcare Companies’

Belfield Rants About Lack of Dentists – But That’s Also Caused by Thatcher!

October 11, 2021

A few days ago right-wing youtuber Alex Belfield put up another video in which he commented on people increasingly pulling their own rotten teeth out. They have been unable to get to a dentist, and so have had to resort to doing it themselves. One man supposedly pulled out 11 of his teeth. I think Belfield was trying to argue that this was all because of the Covid lockdown as he firmly believes it should be lifted. But it was going on long before the outbreak last year. And as with the state of the country generally, the blame ultimately lies with the woman Belfield venerates as a true-blue Tory: Maggie Thatcher.

Way back in the 1980s the Grantham Gargoyle effectively privatised the dentists. There was a dispute with them over salaries and funding. Thatcher refused to give them they amount they were demanding and so a large number left the NHS and went private. The result of this is that there is a shortage of NHS dentists, and the private dentists are frequently too expensive for many people to afford. So people are pulling their own teeth out in desperation.

Which is very like American healthcare. Bernie Sanders, America’s counterpart to Jeremy Corbyn, wanted to introduce Medicare For All, a system whereby the state would pay American citizen’s medical bills. In his book Our Revolution he describes how dreadful the private American healthcare system currently is. 40,000 people a year die because they can’t afford to pay their medical bills. In Virginia, people spend a whole night in their cars waiting for the one day in a month where they can get medical treatment for free. It’s a situation that’s rapidly emerging here in the UK.

Belfield rants in his videos about the current state of the NHS and how it should be privatised. But the crisis is also a product of Thatcherism. The Tories have been underfunding it for over a decade, and in any case costs have escalated and the actual number of hospitals and other medical services diminished as the health service has been privatised piecemeal. The Tory goal is a completely privatised health service, financed by private health insurance.

And this is what we will get if Belfield gets his way and the NHS is privatised.

And I don’t trust Blairite Keef Stalin to oppose it. Not when Tony Blair did so much to privatise the health service too.

Get the Tories out and get Starmer out of Labour!

Email from Local Labour MP Karin Smyth Giving Her Opposition to Tory NHS Privatisation

September 26, 2021

Last week anti-NHS privatisation group We Own It were asking their followers to write to their MPs to get them to oppose the government’s new Health and Social Care bill. This would further open up the NHS to privatisation, not least by allowing private healthcare firms to sit on the boards of NHS trusts. I was one of the peeps, who responded, writing to my local Labour MP for south Bristol, Karin Smyth. Yesterday she sent me this email:

“Dear David,

Thank you for contacting me about the Health and Care Bill 2021-22.

As one of the Labour members on the Bill Committee, I have been following this Bill extremely closely, and doing everything I can to improve it. Whilst there are some positive aspects of the Bill, including reversing some of the devastating policies introduced under the Health and Social Care Act in 2012, there are also some extremely concerning elements.

The Government says the Bill builds on the NHS’s own proposals for reform, aiming to make it less bureaucratic, more accountable, and more integrated. Like many in the health sector, I agree with the objective of more integrated health and care services. But I am concerned that this is the wrong Bill at the wrong time.

Without serious changes, it will fail to integrate health and social care, erode local accountability, and give significant powers to the Health Secretary.

In particular, my Labour colleagues and I are seeking to amend the Bill to remove any possibility that private, profit-motivated firms can have any role in the boards of the new Integrated Care Systems (ICS). During Committee Stage of the Bill, the Health Minister conceded to these concerns and said the Government will bring forward a proposal to protect the independence of ICS boards by preventing individuals with interests in private healthcare from sitting on them. The Opposition will continue to press Ministers on this concession as the Bill progresses.

I’ve also been pursuing the theme of ensuring that the new bodies the Bill creates are properly accountable to local communities, and act in the interest of the patients they serve. Along with Labour colleagues, I supported a number of amendments to make this happen. We proposed that the Chairs of these Integrated Care Boards should be locally elected, and that Board members should be nominated by Directors of Public Health, mental health trusts, social care providers and trade union representatives, and a member representing patients. We also proposed that the Bill should include specific reference to health inequalities, so that NHS England has to take account of their effects when making decisions.

I am committed to upholding the NHS’s founding principles as a comprehensive, integrated, and public NHS that is there for all of us when we need it.

This is a moment of great pressure on the NHS. Yet there is nothing in the legislation to address the greatest challenges facing the NHS. I believe the Government’s focus must instead be on ensuring that services are appropriately staffed and have the resources they need, and have been arguing for greater workforce planning, and equipping local people with the skills and training needed to help alleviate the pressures.

Thank you once again for contacting me about this important issue.

Yours sincerely

Karin Smyth MP
Labour MP for Bristol South”

Smyth is on the right of the party, and has said that she respects and supports Keef Stalin having worked with him. On the other hand, she does work hard for her constituents and has made it extremely clear that she is no fan of the Tories’ attempts to dismantle the NHS. Indeed, she told a meeting of the local Labour party that she became an MP because she was so appalled and David Cameron’s wretched NHS reforms.

I don’t trust Starmer to oppose NHS privatisation whatever he may say about it, simply because he has shown precious little difference between himself and Boris and has broken every promise he made to continue the policies advanced by Jeremy Corbyn.

But I greatly appreciate the hard work Karin Smyth puts in on behalf of the people of Bristol and her local party, and her strong efforts against the Tories’ attempts to destroy the NHS.

NHS Privatisation: Do You Want to Pay the Equivalent of $200 to See a Doctor?

September 20, 2021

This comes from a video on YouTube I was watching the other day. It wasn’t about health services except that at one point the person talking mentioned that where she was – America – you have to pay $200 simply to see a doctor. And that’s before he treats you or gives you medicine.

At a very rough estimate, that’s about £130 or so. Very roughly, and I might be wrong.

But it used to be like that over here as well before the establishment of the NHS by the 1945 Labour government. And people suffered and died because they couldn’t afford to pay for it. I’ve been watching Ken Loach’s excellent film on the establishment of the British welfare state, The Spirit of ’45. This is another flick I fully intend to blog about in due course and highly recommend it to anyone interested in the origins not just of the welfare state, but of the mixed economy that gave us jobs and prosperity for thirty years before the election of Thatcher. And it clearly shows as well how and why capitalism is failing but still being pushed, and why we must never allow the NHS to be privatised. It mixes archive footage from the period, including speeches by Clement Atlee, Nye Bevan, George Lansbury and others with filmed interviews with politicians, activists, writers, union representatives and ordinary working men and women. These include not only the awesome Tony Benn, but also Jacky Davis, a consultant radiologist who co-edited NHS: SOS against the privatisation of the NHS with Ray Tallis. Doctors appearing in the film explain that before the NHS was established, you had to pay half a crown simply to see the doctor. Very poorly paid workers, like agricultural labourers, could be paid five shillings a week. If they fell ill, one of those shillings would be taken in doctor’s fees. And doctors employed debt collectors to get money owing from patients, who’d paid on credit.

This is what is going to happen if Johnson and his jackals privatise the NHS.

I mention this because there was a news report last week that more people are taking out private health care. This is not by accident. It is a deliberate Tory policy. Thatcher would have liked to have privatised the NHS, but she was prevented by a cabinet revolt. Patrick Jenkin, her private secretary, had visited America and was shocked by the American private healthcare system. Unable to get her way, Thatcher instead aimed to get a certain percentage of the British public to take out private health insurance.

As Mike has pointed out again and again, the way the right prepares industries for privatisation is by starving them of funding until they are near collapse and then claiming that privatisation will provide more investment and improve services.

And this is what the Tories have been doing since they got into power eleven or so years ago. The NHS is in crisis with cancelled operations and treatment due to priority being given to combating the Coronavirus. But the Tories never waste a crisis, and they are using it to demand further privatisation. The mad internet radio host, Alex Belfield, released a video last week yet again demanding the privatisation of the NHS because of the crisis and the suffering it was causing his listeners, some of whom had relatives die as a result.

I have every sympathy for them. But the truth is that people are suffering and dying not because of any inherent fault of the NHS but because it is deliberately being run down so the Tories can privatise it.

Boris and his cronies would like to take us to a completely private healthcare system, financed through private health insurance. And if that happens, people will once again have to pay money simply to see a doctor.

And so we come back to the question: do you have the equivalent of $200 to see a doctor? Because this is what it’s going to cost you if Johnson and the private American healthcare companies that want a bit of NHS action get their way.

We Own It Rally for NHS This Saturday in London

September 2, 2021

‘We Own It’ are a pro-NHS group fighting the health service’s deliberate underfunding by the Tories and its piecemeal privatisation. I got this email from them yesterday telling me that they’re launching a press campaign and organising a rally. They’re encouraging people with experiences of waiting lists or having to pay for private treatment to share their stories with them. They will put them up on their website and intend to share those stories with the press. Their rally is set for midday Saturday opposite Old Palace Yard near parliament. The email runs

“Dear David,

Since we first got in touch with you about the launch of our waiting list campaign nearly a month ago, waiting list figures in England have already increased by 200,000. 

5.5 million patients in England alone are currently waiting for treatment. And the figure is also rising across the UK. The number of people on waiting lists is increasing in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, reaching record levels in some places.

We know you love our NHS – it’s one of the best things humans have ever created. And our NHS staff are phenomenal. They’ve worked tirelessly to carry us through the pandemic. 

But they’re also working flat out to tackle waiting list numbers that were already too high even before Covid. 

Because the government has been cutting the vital funding our NHS needs for 10 years – while handing over ever more cash to the private sector.

So together it’s time we raise the alarm! We need to ramp up the pressure on the government and call on them to give our NHS all the funding and extra capacity it needs to care for people urgently and rebuild for the longer term. 

We can do this by sharing your stories with the press to show the human impact of being on a waiting list to access care or being forced to spend savings to go private.

Your story could have the power to make the government change their minds and give the NHS the funding it needs.

We’re talking to journalists right now who want to give you a voice by publishing your experience in the national press. If you have a story to tell, you can follow this link for more information on how to share it with us.

Many of you have already shared your experiences of being on a waiting list or paying for private treatment – thank you. We’ll be putting your stories up on our website soon. If you’re also happy to have your first and last name and a photo of yourself passed over to journalists, we’d love it if you could give us permission to share your details.  

We’re also hosting a rally on Saturday, September 4th in London to launch our campaign for the funding our NHS needs to tackle waiting lists and we’d love if you could join us:

12-1pm, Saturday 4th September – Opposite Old Palace Yard, Parliament, Westminster, SW1A 0AA 

If you’re based in London or able to travel there, and would like to share your story of being on a waiting list or having to pay for private care on the day, let us know by replying to this email – we’d love you to be able to tell your story at the campaign launch.

We’ve also got an action planned in Edinburgh – if you’d like to join it, let us know by replying to this email. 

If you’re not able to attend an action in person you can find out how you can get involved wherever you are in the UK here

Solidarity, 

Cat, Alice, Johnbosco, Matthew, Anna and Zana – the We Own It team”

If you’re able and willing to help with this campaign, I’d encourage you to do so. One of the reasons our response to Covid has been so disastrous is because the cuts to NHS funding have left a shortage of acute care beds compared to other countries, such as Germany. I also noted an article that appeared in the press a few months ago reporting that the NHS was no longer the 1# health service in the world, but had dropped to 4#. This is no accident. As Mike has said time and again, the Tories are deliberately underfunding the NHS in order to transform it into a second class service, hoping that anybody who can will go privately. The contrived failure of NHS care also provides them with a convenient excuse to hand over more of it to the private sector, the same private sector that is responsible for the shortages and substandard care.

And Tory propagandists are already pushing for its privatisation. The mad right-wing radio host, Alex Belfield, has put up another video demanding the privatisation of the NHS following a radio he took from a listener who had suffered through being put on a waiting list. I have every sympathy for that listener, but privatisation is making waiting lists far worse. That is something Belfield definitely is not going to tell his fans as he rants against woke lefties and entitled, university educated whippersnappers. He makes much of being a working class lad from a pit town, standing against the middle class, Guardian-reading left-wing elite. But it’s only the left that’s fighting for the NHS against the middle- and upper class parasites urging its privatisation, a privatisation that will be disastrous for working class people.

And despite the cuts, Tory propagandists are still complaining about waste in the NHS. Earlier this week Sargon’s little chum on the Lotus Eaters channel, Callum, moaned about ‘state-mandated healthcare’ and waste in the NHS because the health service or one of the trusts was advertising for a diversity officer on a salary amounting to tens of thousands. They’d obviously like to get rid of such posts, and see it as an example of where money is being misspent in the health service. I can’t say I’m happy that there are such posts with such inflated salaries, but there are good reasons why they’re needed. This year there have been complaints that Blacks and ethnic minorities have received substandard service from the NHS, especially regarding pregnancy and maternity care. There have also been complaints that ethnic minorities don’t receive promotion as much as Whites, and that they have suffered through being deliberately placed in the frontline of fighting the Coronavirus without the support given to Whites. Furthermore, I doubt any private enterprise would react any differently to such complaints. Indeed, in contrast to the propaganda that private healthcare companies are lean, mean and efficient compared to the NHS, they actually have a bigger bureaucracy, partly to deal with such issues.

The Tories are using their underfunding to push through the privatisation of the NHS. We need to support groups like We Own It who are fighting against them.

‘We Own It’ Celebrate Win in Getting Centene Out of NHS

August 24, 2021

We Own It are a pro-NHS organisation dedicated to getting the parasites of the private health industry out of the NHS and reversing the privatisation of this greatest of our country’s institutions. Centene are an American healthcare company to whom the Tories plan to hand many of our GP surgeries. A month or so ago I went to an online Zoom meeting about the threat Centene present with speakers that included MPs, local councillors and doctors. Centene has previously acquired doctor’s surgeries in the north of England. Their management of them was dreadful. Services were cut, and I believe a certain number of patients were even left without a surgery altogether thanks to the private healthcare company’s closures. A Spanish medical man, working in the NHS, told of the colossal ineptitude of Centene’s management of healthcare in Valencia. This was so egregious that the company was thrown out of the Spanish healthcare system despite the considerable personal contacts it enjoyed with Conservative Spanish politicos. Now these profiteers are seeking to expand their grasp on the British healthcare system. We Own It report that, thanks to pressure from their members, North Central London healthcare authority have decided to kick Centene out of two GPs surgeries in Islington by July next year. But they also appeal for further help in letter writing campaigns against Centene’s attempts to acquire other surgeries in London.

The email runs

You’ve just won another incredible victory in the fight to get Centene out of our local GP practices.

Centene is a profit-greedy American company that took over 49 NHS GP practices in February this year. Their track record shows a company that puts profits before people at every opportunity. 

And with your donations, your time, your actions, social media posts and everything you’ve done, you’ve stood up to them many times since then. 

In April, through your efforts and the incredible work we did alongside Hammersmith and Fulham Save Our NHS, their contract renewal for a local surgery in Hammersmith was cut from 5 years to just 2 years – with stricter performance conditions.

Now, after months of pressure, North Central London health leaders have just decided to get Centene out of two Islington GP surgeries as soon as July next year.

This is incredible news. And you made that happen. 

This is your win. 

Collective pressure works, even when it feels like we’re up against it.

Local We Own It supporters in Islington alongside Islington Keep Our NHS Public worked hard to mount pressure on their local health leaders.

They wrote hundreds of letters to local health leaders, wrote articles in their local newspapers, protested and held a well-attended community meeting at which the local councillors and MPs expressed opposition to Centene.

Their work, along with what you did on a national level, is responsible for this win.

We still have to keep an eye on this win to make sure local health leaders don’t sneak Centene back in through the back door.

But for now, you should bask in your victory.

Your fight to get Centene kicked out of our local GP surgeries continues. 

In June, government inspectors declared 3 Centene-run surgeries in Newham “Inadequate”, despite declaring it “Good” under the local GPs that ran them previously. We need to get them kicked out of these surgeries. You can join a letter-writing session for this if you live in the area.

Two further Centene contracts for surgeries in Brent and Harrow are expiring soon and we must pressure local health leaders not to renew them. Join a letter-writing session for this if you live in the area.

But this is not just a London fight. Just as your support from all across the UK made these wins possible, we are fighting to get Centene kicked out of our NHS everywhere.

Thank you so much for all that you have done toward this victory. We couldn’t do any of this work without you.

Cat, Alice, Zana, Anna, Matthew, Johnbosco – the We Own It team

PS: You can read more about this local victory over Centene on our website blog. Please share the blog as widely as possible.

This is excellent news and demonstrates what people can do in the face of the government’s determination to privatise the NHS. I don’t live in London, and so cannot join their letter writing campaigns against Centene in those areas. If any of the readers of this blog do, you might consider joining these campaigns.

Centene and the other private healthcare companies have not improved the NHS in contrast to the lies and blather put out by free market propagandists in the Tory party and the Labour right. Rather they have cut services, laid off staff and made conditions worse for those who remain in their employ in order to make a profit and give their board their bloated salaries and a handsome dividend for their shareholders. The result is always worse healthcare and more public expense, as it is has been shown that giving state services over to private healthcare contracts raises costs by 6 per cent.

Get Centene and the other profiteers out of the NHS!

No Return Invasion of Afghanistan

August 15, 2021

According to mad right-wing internet radio host, Alex Belfield, parliament has been recalled to discuss the Taliban’s seizure of power in Afghanistan. Belfield made it very clear that we should not go back there. This was a country whose culture and way of life we would never understand. Four hundred British squaddies have already died during the invasion and occupation, and besides, we’ve too much on our plate here at home with domestic crises like the Plymouth mass shooting, rampant knife crime in London and the surge of illegal immigrants trying to cross the Channel in dinghies and other flimsy craft. I agree with him, but partly for reasons that are very different from his.

Firstly, like the invasion of Iraq, the British and American public were deliberately deceived about the invasion of Afghanistan. Yes, the invasion was an appropriate response to al-Qaeda’s attack on America in 9/11, although it was planned and executed by the Saudis. And there is very strong evidence that the responsibility for the atrocity goes all the way up to the highest levels of the Saudi state. But the American neo-Cons had been planning the invasion years before. They’d been in talks with the Taliban over the construction of a new oil pipeline to run through the country, allowing them to get around the Russian affiliated pipelines in the region. These talks stalled and eventually failed. So George Dubya Bush and his friends in big business got together and planned an invasion, waiting for a suitable opportunity to arrive when they could launch it. The liberation of the local people from a deeply repressive, bloodthirsty Islamist regime was never the real, primary objective.

As for Afghan society, this is a deeply conservative, tribal culture. The Taliban have their roots in their traditional way of life and particularly the very traditional Daobandi movement in Islam that stretches across into Pakistan and India. Hence, although extreme, the Taliban will appear to many Afghans to be fighting for their traditional values and society against those imposed upon them by force by the western invader. They have also been given support, supposedly, by elements within the Pakistani military. The Pathan tribe, I believe, form the core supporters of the Taliban, and their tribal territory extends across the border into Pakistan. They thus receive cross-border support from their fellow tribesmen over there.

Besides which, I don’t believe that the western occupation has done much to win hearts and minds. Hamid Karzai’s government was massively corrupt, and this corruption extended all the way down to the local level, where the police and government officials tried to find every way they could extort more money out of the ordinary citizens. The drone operations in the region have also done much to generate discontent. I recall reading cases where wedding parties were slaughtered in anti-terrorist drone strikes. However, instead of only killing the terrorist targeted, they also killed innocent people who just happened to be present.

A second invasion of Afghanistan would also be extremely expensive. And as this is a Conservative government which is already protesting about the expenses of dealing with the Covid pandemic, the funding for it would be through further cuts in welfare spending and the privatisation of whatever’s left of the state infrastructure. Which means the NHS. This will mean more poverty, starvation and misery for Britain’s great working people, and poor health as more services are given to private healthcare providers. Who will start cutting their provision so they can make a profit.

The Taliban are a deeply unpleasant organisation and their attitude towards women is particularly misogynistic. There have been reports that wherever they have taken over an area, they have gone to the local mosques to compile lists of the unmarried girls. These are then forcibly married, even though they may be barely into their teens. They do, however, have an age limit of 12. When the Taliban were in power, women were not expected to leave their homes except when they had. If they were out of the house, they had to make themselves as inconspicuous as possible. This meant that they had to be silent. I’ve read reports in the papers of Afghan women, who’d lost limbs during previous fighting, being beaten because their artificial legs made a noise. And this is apart from the ban on art, music and television, the restrictions on non-Muslim religions, the closure of football stadiums and their conversion into arenas for mass public executions.

Our invasion and attempts at nation-building have failed, and there are dangers in this. Al-Qaeda were encouraged to launch their attack from Afghanistan on 9/11 because of the success the Mujahideen had achieved fighting the Soviet occupation, although much of that was due to covert funding from the West and Saudi Arabia. I am very much afraid that with the withdrawal of western troops and the fall of the democratic Afghan government, the Taliban or some other Islamist terror group will similarly feel empowered and that they can launch another attack to destroy the west.

But Afghanistan is the proverbial ‘graveyard of empires’. We found it impossible to occupy the country in the 19th century, as did the Russians a hundred years later. Any further invasion is likely to fail again. As repulsive and dangerous as the Taliban are, we should not go back. We would not be helping its people, only the oil industry and big business who seek to exploit it. And the costs of the occupation would be borne in the lives and limbs of the servicewomen and men sent out to fight, and by Britain’s working people as the government slashes more services.

We should not go back to invading countries simply to make massive multinational corporations even more obscenely rich.

Starmer Finally Reveals Himself as Blairite

August 8, 2021

And what a sordid, depressing spectacle it is too! But we can’t say it wasn’t expected. One of the most dispiriting pieces of last week’s news was that Starmer had appeared in the pages of the Financial Times, declaring he was only intent on power and would take Labour back to the glorious policies of Tony Blair.

Yes, Tony Blair! The unindicted war criminal who pressured the intelligence agencies into ‘sexing up’ the ‘dodgy dossier’ on Saddam Hussein and lied about the dictator having weapons of mass destruction that he could launch within forty minute. This was all done to provide the pretext for an illegal invasion with his best mate, George ‘Dubya’ Bush. It was all done ostensibly to liberate the Iraqi people from a murderous tyrant. The reality was that it was all done so western multinationals led by the American-Saudi oil industry could grab Iraq’s oil reserves and its state enterprises. The result was the destruction of one of the most secular societies in the Middle East and its welfare state. The country’s economy was decimated as the neo-Cons turned into the kind of low tax, free trade state they’d like America to be, unemployment hit 60 per cent and society descended into sectarian violence and chaos. Women could no longer pursue careers outside the home, the American army colluded with local thugs in running deaths squads while the mercenaries also employed by the occupying forces ran prostitution and drugs rings and shot Iraqis for sport. Then, a few years later, Blair joined Bush’s successor, Barack Obama, and Immanuel Macro in helping to overthrow Colonel Gaddafy in Libya, with the result that one half of that country is in the hands of militant Islamists, who have re-opened the slave markets to sell Blacks.

Blair’s domestic policies have also been horrendous. Blair pushed the Thatcherite programme of privatising the Health Service into a much higher gear, so much so that it astonished some Tories. They remarked that he got away with doing more than they would have dared with Labour in opposition. Blair set up to the Community Care Groups, the doctors’ organisations charged with running doctor’s surgeries so that they could raise money privately and buy services from private healthcare companies. The new health centres and polyclinics he set up were also to be privately run. More contracts were given to private healthcare companies and more hospitals closed or turned over to private healthcare companies to run instead. His health secretary, Alan Milburn, wanted the NHS to become nothing more than kitemark on services provided by private healthcare companies. The same Milburn is in this fortnight’s issue of Private Eye following an article Milburn wrote in one of the papers calling for more of the NHS to be given over to private industry. Milburn is not a disinterested observers, as the Eye’s article shows his connections with any number of private healthcare companies.

This is the same Blair who gave positions in government, including regulatory bodies, to the chairmen and senior staff of big businesses that donated to him and his party. He applied the Public-Private Finance Initiative to industry as a whole, resulting in costs and delays massively increasing in public works projects. He favoured the big supermarkets over small, family run stores, thus putting many of them out of business. At the same time, the farmers who supply the supermarkets found themselves locked into extremely exploitative contracts.

He also carried on the Tories’ policy of destroying state education. Thatcher’s project of revitalising schools by privatising them as ‘city academies’ had been a failure and was actually being wound up by her education secretary, Norman Fowler. But Blair fished it out of the dustbin, rebranded them as ‘academies’ and forged ahead with the idea, even against local opposition. The result has been a series of scandals over schools run only narrowly religious lines with draconian and humiliating disciplinary codes. At the same time, the academies have also been criticised for seeking to maintain their academic standards through highly selective admissions policies excluding the less academically able and those with behavioural difficulties. These academies have been boosted with the expenditure of tens of millions on them while ordinary state schools are starved of funds. When this is taken into account, they don’t perform any better than ordinary state schools. In fact they often performed far worse, as a string of academies have folded or their schools taken back into state administration.

At the same time, Blair, Mandelson and co also demonstrated their hatred and contempt for the unemployed, the poor and disabled. They fully believed in Thatcher’s ‘Victorian value’ of less eligibility, in which the process of claiming state benefit was to be made as humiliating as possible in order to deter people from claiming it. Based on spurious, fraudulent research cooked up by American private health insurer Unum, they decided that most people claiming disability benefit were malingerers. The result was the infamous work capability tests, which were set so that a specific percentage of claimants were found to be ineligible and thrown off benefit. The result has been even more despair, starvation and deaths for hundreds of genuinely disabled people, who have had their only source of income removed. It was also Blair, who introduced workfare as part of his risible ‘New Deal’. Under the guise of teaching long term benefit claimants the necessary skills to get them back into work, the unemployed were handed over to work for various businesses and private sector organisations, like the big supermarket chains and charities. If they refused, they lost their benefits. Contrary to what Blair and his Tory successors claimed, this does not help unemployed people get back into work. In fact it does the opposite. The unemployed actually do far better looking for jobs and voluntary work on their own.

Blair also hated the trade unions, the working class organisations that have been part of the Labour party since it was founded in 1905 or so. The Labour party was partly set up to protect trade unions and their members. But Blair did everything he could to smash their power further. When he became head of the party c. 1997 he threated to cut the party’s ties with them if they didn’t back his reforms.

Yes, Blair won three elections, but the cost was a massive drop in membership and support amongst traditional Labour voters and activists. From this perspective, Jeremy Corbyn was actually far more successful, turning Labour into the biggest and best funded of the UK parties. This was through the simple technique of putting forward a traditionally socialist, truly Labour set of policies: end the privatisation of the NHS, renationalise the utilities, restore the welfare state, remove the restrictions on the trade unions and give working people proper rights at work. Corbyn became massively unpopular only due to a concerted campaign of personal vilification, but his programme was genuinely popular. Unlike Blair’s, who only won the election because almost two decades of Tory rule had made them even more unpopular.

But the Labour left and the continued popularity of socialism continues to worry the Blairites. Hence Starmer’s determination to purge the party of them, and most specifically socialist Jews. On Wednesday there was a Virtual meeting of left-wing labour politicos and activists on Zoom discussing Starmer’s continuing persecution on the Labour left. One of the great speakers quoted the late Tony Benn. Speaking during the purges of Marxists from the party in the 1980s, Benn stated that it would start with the Marxists, go on to the socialists and end with a merger with the SDP. It was all about protecting capitalism. Occasionally the party would be given a chance to govern the country, but nothing really would change.

And that’s really what you can expect from Starmer’s return to Blairism. It’s just going to be more Tory policies, put forward by people who claim to represent ‘real Labour values’ but who in reality have nothing but absolute contempt for the working class and the ideals of the people who founded the party.

As Mike has pointed out, it was clear which direction Starmer really was going from the outset. Despite his declaration that he would continue Corbyn’s manifest promises, he broke every one of them as soon as he could. He carried on the purges under the pretext of clamping down on anti-Semitism – and who knew so many anti-Semites were self-respecting Jews! – and then had the whip withdrawn from his predecessor. He has also done his best to destroy the party’s internal democracy, suspending individuals and constituency parties at a whim and imposing his own candidates against the wishes of local activists.

Somehow Starmer has managed to convince himself that a return to Blairism will be a vote-winner. Well, it hasn’t so far. Coupled with the islamophobia and anti-Black racism of his supporters, it’s led to the party massively losing members and working class support. The result has been a string of election defeats.

Blair was a mass-murderer, whose wars have turned the Middle East into a charnel house and whose economic and welfare policies have further impoverished this country and its awesome, hard-working people. But they kept capitalism secure and further enriched the already obscenely wealthy.

And to Thatcherites like Starmer and his supporters, that’s all that really matters. Expect Labour to lose, and continue to lose, with this open move to the right.

Starmer Is Silent on the Tories’ Privatisation of the NHS

July 12, 2021

More evidence of the absolute absence of any real, traditional Labour values from the noxious vacuity now taking up space as the leader of the Labour party. Mike put up a piece a day or so ago commenting on a tweet someone sent to Starmer asking him if he was going to vote against the government’s latest legislation opening the NHS up to further privatisation, allowing private healthcare companies to sit on NHS boards and take over GPs’ surgeries. In areas where this has been tried, it’s been a disaster. Those companies can only make profit by cutting staff and services, so you can far worse treatment. This isn’t up for debate, it’s true. It also seems to mark the transition to a two-tier health service: an under-resourced, substandard state sector for the proles while the rich will go to the better private service, which only they can afford. Assuming that it doesn’t result in the NHS being totally privatised and transformed into an American-style healthcare system, which is financed through private healthcare with medicare and medicaid, state-payed healthcare existing only for the poor.

So how did the great leader, who would unify the party and defend the Health Service respond to this vital question? He didn’t. He didn’t reply at all. Major indecision, as Johnson calls him, struck again! Or worse – it’s a tactical silence, because he won’t. The Tories have been privatising the Health Service piecemeal since Thatcher, but Blair when he took power went further than they did. Blair was responding to lobbying by American healthcare companies, including some of the same companies and scumbags who’d been lobbying and drafting policies for the Tories. He created the Community Care Groups of doctors, who were supposed to control the funding for the doctors’ surgeries of which they were in charge. They were also given the ability to raise money privately outside NHS funding and to buy in services from the private sector. It was also Blair’s idea to have the polyclinics or health centres he was building run by private healthcare companies. Alan Milburn, his health secretary, would have liked to have turned the NHS into a kitemark for services provided by private companies.

And Starmer and his squalid followers are true Tory blue Blairites. It seems that despite his election videos in which he promised to defend the NHS at the last elections, he has absolute no such intentions. He’ll betray the NHS to get the votes of all those swing Tories Blair lusted after. But Blairism is a spent force. The Tory voters ain’t coming over to the Labour not when Johnson appears to be prepared to spend more to keep Britain at least somewhat above water. Johnson’s getting reviled for it by the extreme right too. There’s an anti-immigrant YouTube channel, We Got A Problem, that put up a video a few days ago denouncing Johnson as a Communist! This showed the Tory flame or tree or whatever against a red background with a hammer and sickle. This shows you how utterly removed from reality the Tory right are. The result of this is that some people are definitely going to vote Tory, while traditional Labour voters will stay home because Starmer is, like Blair, doing absolutely nothing for the working class. But hey, he’s aiming to get more support from corporate donors!

The debate’s on Wednesday. We have to do everything to defend the NHS. And that means getting rid of both the real Tories in parliament and the imitators in the Labour party. Let’s end privatisation and

Get that greedy, profiteering, factionalist disgrace Starmer out!

Protests Planned Saturday against the Privatisation of the NHS

June 29, 2021

I went to an amazingly great pro-NHS zoom meeting last night organised, I think, by the anti-NHS privatisation organisations We Own It and/or Keep Our NHS Public. The speakers included Dr. Louise Irvine and Antonio Perez-Iranzo, a Spanish doctor working in the NHS, who described how Centene, the private health care company that’s being given positions on NHS boards and allowed to take over doctors’ surgeries, has managed to wreck healthcare in his home country. They were so terrible that eventually the Valencian government was forced to take the service back inhouse and kick them out. Rabina Khan, a Lib Dem councillor in Tower Hamlets, talked about her experience of the poor service they delivered when they took over the traditional GP’s surgery at which she was a patient. She was particularly concerned about the effect of privatisation on the elderly, and on Black and Bangladeshi women. Another speaker told of the vastly poorer service they gave when they were given NHS contracts and acquired GPs’ surgeries in Nottingham. The final speaker was Jeremy Corbyn, introduced as the ‘best Prime Minister this country never had’. Absolutely. He provided more details on the continuing NHS privatisation, showing his absolutely and unfailing commitment to the great institution created by Nye Bevan. He reminded everyone that one he waved the documents showing this was going to happen in parliament and asked Johnson about it, prime ministerial liar called him a liar. But he was right, and if, anything, understated the case. There was also time given for ordinary folks to ask their questions and give their experiences of the destruction of the NHS by these parasites.

In every case, the story was the same. Centene are given the contracts without warning, over the heads of local people, patients and even other doctors. Notification of the change comes from a bland, corporate letter and people are urged to get on Zoom for further information. This is a problem for older people, those not on the internet or who have problems using it, and people for whom English is not their primary language. Centene is a for-profit American health insurance company. Already big, it became massive in America with the introduction of Obamacare. It states in its corporate literature that it is only interested in making a profit, and that if this doesn’t happen, it will divest itself of those loss-making interests. Louise Irvine stated that, as a doctor, you don’t think of making a profit, even though since the inception of the NHS doctors are actually private businessmen, who contract in to the NHS. The only way to make a profit is to reduce costs. Which means sacking people and actually providing a worse service by reducing the amount of care given. In Nottingham, when Centene took over the service, they dispersed 3,000 of the 11,000 patients in their newly acquired GPs’ surgeries to others.

They are purely in it for the money, the profits of which go outside this country to their American shareholders.

Keep Our NHS Public is planning a demonstration against the privatisation of the NHS In London on Saturday, 3rd July 2021. This also includes issues like patient safety, and pay justice. They are going to assemble outside UCH on Euston Road, NWI at 12.00 before marching to parliament square. There are other protests also planned elsewhere in the country for the same day. Details of them can be found at their website https://keepournhspublic.com/ They also recommended people looking at an essay on this privatisation by a member of the Socialist Health Alliance, whose website is https://sochealth.co.uk.

They are naturally extremely keen for people to join their organisation or set up their own. Whatever we do, we have to organise to show the strength of opposition to this privatisation. They state it will be a long struggle, but people have succeeded in getting contracts taken away from the profiteers Serco, Circle Health and others.

The message is clear: Get rid of Centene and the other private companies profiting from the NHS. Get Boris out, and a proper government in, one committed to ending NHS privatisation.

And that does not include the Labour Blairites, who were as keen to privatise the NHS as their Tory heroes.

We Own It’s Public Zoom Meeting Monday Against NHS Privatisation

June 25, 2021

We Own It is an organisation campaigning for the renationalisation of public industries. It is particularly against the Tories’ ongoing privatisation of the NHS. I got this email from them yesterday about a public zoom meeting they’re organising on Monday against the Tories’ decision to hand over a number of doctor’s surgeries to Centene, a private healthcare company. This is going to be the thin end of the wedge, leading to further GP’s surgeries being privatised unless stopped. The email runs

“Our NHS turns 73 this year. 

As part of this year’s NHS birthday, a coalition of NHS campaign groups – including We Own It – is organising a public meeting on stopping the private takeover of NHS GP surgeries. 

Can you join the online (ZOOM) public meeting at 6pm on Monday, 28th June?

Sign up to attend the public meeting

You may know, David, that Centene, an American healthcare corporation, recently took over 49 NHS GP surgeries. 

This kind of takeover of our NHS GP surgeries shows that the government is intent on putting our NHS into the hands of profiteers. 

This would explain their lack of action to get Centene out.

At the public meeting you will learn more about the danger these takeovers pose to our NHS and also how you can be part of the fightback.

Please join the public meeting whether you are in England, Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland.

At the meeting you will hear from:

  • Jeremy Corbyn – MP for Islington North (his constituency has a Centene surgery)
  • Dr. Louise Irvine – Keep Our NHS Public
  • Richard Buckwell – Chair Nottingham & Notts Keep Our NHS Public
  • Cllr. Rabina Khan – Tower Hamlets Councillor (Liberal Democrats)

There will also be a speaker from Spain to speak about the effects of Centene in their country.

I want to attend the public meeting
Our NHS was founded on the principle of equality: equal access to healthcare for everyone – from the rich to the poor. 
That is why the NHS was established as a public healthcare system, free at the point of use and funded through general taxation.
Our local GP surgeries are the first point of contact with the NHS for over 80% of us.
But with companies like Centene now getting their hands on our NHS GP surgeries, many of them risk being closed if they are not profitable.
Centene has already closed surgeries in Harlow (Essex), Leicester and Camden for not being profitable. 
And by doing so, they are depriving the communities access to readily available care.
It is so important that we continue to fight back and stop these takeovers.
Sign up to attend the public meeting

As we celebrate the 73rd anniversary of our NHS, your involvement in events like this, David, is so valued. The truth is that without the fight that you have put on over the years, there may no longer be an NHS.

Please sign up to attend the public meeting to stop Centene’s takeover of NHS GP surgeries.

Thank you so much for the incredible work you’ve been doing to protect our NHS.

Cat, Alice, Pascale, Chris, Zana, Johnbosco – the We Own It team

PS: You still have an opportunity to fund action and campaigning against the government’s plan to allow private companies, like Virgin, to sit on ICS boards. Integrated Care Systems (ICS) boards will make decisions about how NHS budgets are spent in our local areas. Sign up to donate £5 a month or whatever you can afford. Every penny helps in the fight to stop this privatisation of our NHS.

Of the speakers, Jeremy Corbyn needs no introduction as the former, and vilely maligned leader of the Labour party, but it will be interesting to hear from a medical doctor, Louise Irvine, and the Spanish speaker about how Centene is wrecking their country’s healthcare system, all in the name of profit.

I haven’t donated to the organisation, but I do intend to go to the Virtual meeting. I think the time is 6.00 – 7.30 pm on Monday, 28th June 2021. If you feel the same, you may also want to do the same to protect this most vital of British institutions.